Since its premiere screening on January 25th, Alfonso Gomez-Rejon’s “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” has dominated the buzz coming out of this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Given its landmark sale to Fox Searchlight its overwhelming audience response, no one was surprised when the film (like “Whiplash” 12 months earlier) walked away with both the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award.
And when we asked the members of our Criticwire Network to name their favorite films and performances from this year’s Sundance, “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” topped the polls once again, claiming first place in three different categories: Best Narrative Feature, Best Screenplay and Best Ensemble. On the 40 ballots submitted, the other clear critical favorite in Park City was Robert Eggers’ “The Witch.” The colonial horror story landed Eggers in the top slot in the Best Director and Best First Feature categories.
Among some high-profile projects and subjects as part of the Sundance documentary slate, one of the films with the strangest hooks finished first with critics. Crystal Moselle’s “The Wolfpack” was collectively chosen as Best Documentary Feature. “Listen to Me Marlon,” Stevan Riley’s look into some previously unseen elements of the life of Marlon Brando, was a solid second. “The Nightmare,” Rodney Ascher’s spooky “Room 237” follow-up, landed in third, followed by Bobcat Goldthwait’s “Call Me Lucky” and Liz Garbus’ “What Happened, Miss Simone?“
“James White,” which finished third in the Narrative Feature tally, also followed in the footsteps of “Whiplash” by snagging top honors in both the Best Lead and Supporting Performance categories. Christopher Abbott, playing the titular James, edged out Bel Powley from “The Diary of a Teenage Girl” and Jason Segel’s David Foster Wallace turn in James Ponsoldt’s “The End of the Tour.”
On the Supporting side, Cynthia Nixon’s convincing turn as a woman dying of cancer took the first slot — firmly occupied by JK Simmons at the close of last year’s festival. It remains to be seen if she enjoys the same post-fest success. For his work in “The Overnight,” runner-up Jason Schwartzman makes his second consecutive Sundance appearance in the top acting results (after 2014’s “Listen Up Philip“) while RJ Cyler from “Me and Earl” and Kevin Corrigan from “Results” rounded out the top supporting quartet.
In addition to Segel’s performance, Donald Margulies’ script was the runner-up in the Screenplay category, narrowly edging out “The Witch” and the Gerwig-Baumbach-penned “Mistress America.” Amongst the other ensembles, the expansive high-school cast of “Dope,” the characters who people the streets of Los Angeles in “Tangerine” and members of the Irish and American sides of John Crowley’s “Brooklyn” all collectively finished in the top five.
To see the full list of results, visit the survey homepage here.